The PJ Tatler

Battleground Texas? Eh, Not So Much

Obama’s forward-deployed Battleground Texas rode into the Lone Star State threatening to turn the state purple or even blue. They’re banking on raising big dollars and engaging their likely voters, both of which have been done since Texas went Republican in 1994, and both of which have failed.

To be specific, Battleground Texas came in claiming that they would raise $10 million and raise an army of volunteers.

But how are they really doing?

Well, they say that they’ve raised about $1.2 million. Not bad, but it’s far from the $10 million the hoped for. That’s across six months, so extrapolate over a year and you come to $2.4 million.

Again, not bad, but only about a quarter of their goal. And even by their own numbers, the Republican Party of Texas still has more cash on hand than the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas combined.

Let’s put that in perspective. Just a short time ago the Texas GOP was in debt. Now it’s in the black. The Democrats had the chance to dent the party when it was at its weakest financially. Now it’s arguably institutionally stronger than ever. And it has plans to grow and get stronger.

There’s another weakness behind the Democrats’ numbers.

The Democrats and Battleground Texas are tapping about 2,000 donors, but about 40% of their money is coming from two sources: far-left liberal trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, and the SEIU. Big Lawyer and Big Labor, therefore, represent a massive slice of the left’s fundraising in Texas. Neither Big Labor nor Big Lawyer is particularly popular in Texas, a right-to-work state that enacted tort reform a few years back. You can guess what the SEIU and Mostyn want the Democrats to do if they ever get any power.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Texas is leveraging about 60,000 donors. A majority of its money is coming from small donors, which is a more sustainable, grassroots base to work from.

Battleground Texas is also proving ineffective against a problem that has vexed, and shrunk, the Texas Democratic Party in recent years.

I happened to swing by the Texas GOP’s headquarters today (disclosure: I was once the communications director there) and spent a couple of minutes with Chairman Steve Munisteri. He didn’t have a lot of time to chat, because he was on his way out the door.

He was heading across the state to welcome three Democrat officeholders who had decided to switch and become Republicans. Those three are far, far from alone.

There are 853 more Republican officeholders in Texas now than there were in 2008. Not every party switch is documented, but of those who have been confirmed, 75 switched in 2010, another 25 switched in 2011, 58 switched in 2012 and 33 have already switched in 2013. Adding in the Democrats that Munisteri is welcoming across the aisle today, and just under 200 Democrats have made the switch since 2010.

Officeholders switch parties for all kinds of reasons, but it usually boils down to a couple of common ones. One, they no longer feel at home in the Democrat Party as it continues to push left. And two, their constituents have already switched parties. It’s either switch or die.

Battleground Texas has no answer for the exodus of Democrats, voters and officeholders, to the GOP. Based on public statements they have made in the Texas press lately, Battleground Texas is making a massive, fundamental and fatal error in how it is approaching the state.

Of course I’m not telling them what that error is. Maybe they’ll figure it out, maybe they won’t.

Behind all of this, Democrats in Texas continue to insist that the state’s changing demographics will hand them the state. Maybe so, maybe no, but the fact is, Texas is already a majority-minority state, and yet it’s also as red as ever.